SOME 27,000 job applicants have already sought to join the gardai ahead of a new recruitment campaign announced by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
The number of recruits to be taken on has not yet been determined but the force will need at least 400 to keep its strength at the current level.
At the moment, there are slightly over 13,200 gardai and Commissioner Martin Callinan has warned that the strength cannot be allowed to fall below 13,000. The force loses around 400 a year through retirements and resignations.
The new recruits are not expected to arrive at the Garda College in Templemore until 2014 because of the large number of applications anticipated.
During a reserve garda graduation ceremony at the college yesterday, Mr Shatter acknowledged that a "very large" number of applications was expected.
The last recruit class was in 2009 and they graduated two years later.
As a result of a moratorium on recruitment, the strength of the force has plummeted from more than 14,500 gardai.
Mr Callinan told 100 reserve gardai, who graduated yesterday, that the group reflected the country's diverse, cosmopolitan nature.
Seven of them came from countries other than Ireland, bringing the total of non-Irish nationals in the reserve to 72, representing 26 different nations, stretching from the United States to India.
"It is heartening to see you fully embracing the spirit of community involvement in Ireland," he said.
Mr Shatter described the reservists as a "a symbol of what we in Ireland are known for across the world – selfless volunteerism".
The new reservists all said they wanted to put something back into the community.
Kevin Meade (22), from Rush, Co Dublin, who also holds US citizenship, had thought about joining the police force in his native New York. But he opted to become a garda reservist and is now looking forward to his reserve career in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
Indian-born Anish Pillai (31), who is based at Sundrive Road in Crumlin, and Albanian Sudita Zalli (21), from Pearse Street station in Dublin, both felt that working as a reservist would keep them in close touch with the community and give them an opportunity to play their part locally in an unarmed force.
Simon Draghici (37), from Transylvania, and Arunas Jagelavicius (33), from Lithuania, were both following up a boyhood dream to join a police force.